Coming off the All-Star break, the Rangers look to improve their play with a manpower advantage when they visit the lowly Flyers on Saturday.
New York (23-21-4), which suffered a 3-1 loss to Atlanta on Jan. 20 just before the break, has dropped four of five and 11 of 16.
A major factor for that has been the Rangers’ lack of production on the power play. The Rangers have failed to convert on 16 straight man-advantage chances, with their last score coming in a 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders on Jan. 9.
“We have a power play that really is set up for one shot every 30 seconds,” said Rangers forward Brendan Shanahan, who leads the team with 12 power-play goals. “The successful power plays put the puck to the net and gets people going there.”
New York’s power-play problems, though, haven’t kept it from picking up points against the Flyers. The Rangers have converted only one of 23 power-play chances against Philadelphia this season, but are 3-1-0 against the Flyers, owners of by far the NHL’s worst record.
New York has been particularly bad on the road of late, going 2-6 in its last eight away from Madison Square Garden, but has a good opportunity to turn it around against a Philadelphia club that has lost eight in a row.
“I think the group is really frustrated,” Shanahan said of the Rangers. “It just seems right now, the team is off-balance.”
Shanahan captained the Eastern Conference as it lost 12-9 in the All-Star game Wednesday night. He had one shot on goal, coming in the second period.
At the request of Rangers general manager Glen Sather, Jaromir Jagr was left off the All-Star team to rest his surgically repaired left shoulder and aching hip.
Jagr scored in the defeat to the Thrashers, just his second goal in 13 games. It came on a move reminiscent of last season before he suffered the shoulder injury in the playoffs.
“Last year when we were on a roll there was an Olympic break. When we came back it didn’t work for us,” Jagr said. “Hopefully, this year will be different.”
Jagr has 33 goals and 94 points in 73 games against the Flyers.
Philadelphia defenseman Denis Gauthier is likely to make his return Saturday, according to the team’s Web site. He has been out since having surgery on his left shoulder Nov. 12.
“I was medically cleared after just nine weeks,” Gauthier said. “I could have played the last two (games) maybe, but we just felt that if we held back it would give me 10 more days to really heal up comfortably.”
“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Flyers captain Peter Forsberg said. “Hopefully, we’ll come back re-energized with more confidence.”
Forsberg has generated lots of interest among NHL teams looking to add a veteran scorer, but Philadelphia general manager Paul Holmgren has denied reports that the Swedish star has been given permission to speak to Colorado about returning to his former team.
The 33-year-old Forsberg is in the final year of his contract and can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. He’s struggled with a foot condition that has limited him to eight goals and 28 points in 31 games this season.
Forsberg has two goals and three assists in two games against the Rangers.